Thomas Wright (BUS ’17) knew from an early age that he wanted to work in hospitality. Throughout high school he worked in the food and beverage industry with dreams to one day open his own restaurant. Those dreams changed focus when he came to DePaul University’s School of Hospitality Leadership and discovered his love for what he describes as the “controlled chaos” of working in hotels.
While earning his business bachelor’s degree in hospitality leadership he met with Four Seasons during the school's "branding day".
“I think the Four Seasons is one of the best hotels in Chicago,” Wright says. “I wanted to improve my service capabilities and what better place to start?”
As the president of DePaul’s student chapter of the American Hotel & Lodging Association on campus, Wright was well versed in the industry and used his networking skills to get an interview for the Manager in Training (MIT) program at the Four Seasons. The MIT program gives trainees operation exposure, training and valuable one-on-one time with managers across the organization and places graduates of the program in management positions. Wright graduated from DePaul in June and was immediately accepted into Four Seasons’ MIT program.
“The sense of support and the development opportunities at the Four Seasons is like nothing I have ever seen,” Wright says. “I feel that they put extra care into developing the team, and the MIT program has been an excellent launching pad for my career no matter what direction I decide to take.”
Four Seasons is an active presence at the School of Hospitality Leadership on DePaul’s Loop Campus throughout the year. Whether it is hosting a booth at the school’s career fair, engaging one-on-one with students, helping develop the school’s course materials, participating in panel discussions or visiting classrooms, Four Seasons is actively seeking DePaul hospitality students for career development and employment opportunities.
“DePaul is the main hospitality school in Chicago—right in our backyard—and we are passionate about being involved in their community,” says Sarah Bond, regional director of people and culture at Four Seasons. “What I love about the DePaul student is that they are willing to work hard, get their hands dirty and value the education in working.”
The MIT program is one of the best ways for DePaul graduates to accelerate on the management career path within a worldwide hotel brand. Over the course of a year, students in the program meet with senior leaders to discuss different management values, such as conflict resolution, change management and problem solving. It also matches students with their interests (food and beverage, conference service, housekeeping, etc.) so that they can easily transition into management roles that align with their career plans. Recent graduates of the program who currently work at the Four Seasons Chicago include Rebecca Orner (BUS ’13), conference services manager, and Kevin Stevens (MSH ’15), assistant housekeeping manager.
DePaul hospitality school industry partnerships benefit students
Nicholas Thomas, director of the School of Hospitality Leadership, works closely with Bond and Four Seasons and wants students to know that the partnership with the hospitality company is a relationship from which all students can benefit. These benefits include internships, and part-time and full-time positions, in addition to the MIT program.
“The Four Seasons is a fantastic place to work no matter what your degree is,” Thomas says. “Whether you are in accounting, management, real estate or marketing, if you want to work in a fast and exciting industry in the global hub of hospitality and tourism that is Chicago—the Four Seasons is a great place to join.”
David Janus (BUS ‘18) is currently in the MIT finance program. Janus worked in hotels throughout high school and college with dreams to work in a five-star hotel. Even though Janus studied accountancy at DePaul, he knew that his skills were transferable into the luxury hotel industry. Through networking events, and participating in hotel-based case competitions hosted by DECA, a national student organization that sponsors business contests, Janus realized that not all accounting majors end up at the big accounting firms in Chicago.
“Accounting is very experience-based—you have to work with people and solve problems,” Janus says. “This is why it pairs so well with hospitality. I like meeting new people from around the world and building friendships across the world.”
Janus and Wright are just two recent examples of students benefiting from DePaul’s connection to the Four Seasons. For students considering the hotel route, Thomas recommends stopping by the School of Hospitality Leadership’s Marriott Foundation Center for Student Development and Engagement (Loop Campus, Daley 340), which hosts frequent “branding day” visits by national and global hospitality brands, which highlight career opportunities students can access.
“There are always opportunities that exist,” Thomas says. “Don’t wait for the career fair, stop by the center and we will put you in the right direction. “
Bond also recommends reaching out throughout the year and to not be afraid of cold-calling for additional information. “We are proud of Four Seasons, and we are proud of hospitality,” Bond says. “We would love to share that passion with others, so my advice, don't be afraid to reach out and take a risk. DePaul students are genuinely good-spirited, energetic, hard-working individuals and that is exactly what the Four Seasons culture represents.”
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